PNC Survey: Vaccines Key Part of Business’ Recovery from Pandemic

PITTSBURGH – A survey conducted by PNC finds that many leaders of small- and mid-sized business plan on encouraging employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as they hope a return to normalcy will stabilize the business climate.

Nearly half of those surveyed, 48%, said they plan on requiring employees to get vaccinated, a third that they will provide education about vaccination and 22% they they plan to provide incentives to employees who get vaccinated.

At the same time, 48% also say they are facing challenges to stay in business and 24% say they can only continue operating in current conditions for up to a year.

“Clearly, small and mid-sized business owners have high hopes that successful adoption of vaccinations by the public will translate into an improved business environment, but many challenges remain in front of them,” said PNC chief economist Gus Faucher.  “As we saw in our survey last fall, business owners remain resilient as they adapt to the massive economic changes the pandemic has caused, and they expect most of these changes to be genuinely transformative.”

Forty percent of survey respondents said they plan to increase prices in the next six months, up from less than a third of respondents in PNC’s autumn survey. In addition, 90% of owners said they had changed their operations in response to COVID-19, with more than two-thirds saying they expect safety changes, including new policies or physical modifications to their workspace, to be permanent.

“Business owners indicated that they will have to cope with these challenges in two ways that are potentially harmful for the broader economic recovery, slowing the rate of hiring and increasing prices for their customers,” Faucher said.   

Of businesses that cut their workforce in 2020, 82% said the decrease is temporary. In addition, 69% said the actions affected less than a quarter of their staff. However, a record-low number of respondents, 7%, said they expect to increase the number of full-time employees in the next six months.

Other key findings in PNC’s survey include:

  • Small-business owners are not yet feeling as if they’re part of the country’s economic recovery, as optimism is growing about the national and local economies, but a dimmer outlook for their own business.
  • Nearly half of businesses reported moving to remote work, but only 15% expect the change to be long-lasting and 59% say it is likely a temporary measure.
  • Three-quarters of respondents who received a Paycheck Protection Program loan considered it extremely important and 43% of business leaders say the newest round of PPP fund is equally needed.
  • Fifty-six percent of business leaders reported an increase in the use of technology since the pandemic began.Three in 10  have increased use of technology to improve workforce productivity. More than a third, 38%, applied new technologies to improve the sales process in the form of electronic or touchless payment systems (29%) or electronic/website-enabled sales (23%).

A summary of the survey results can be read HERE.

Pictured: A nurse administers the Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to a health worker. AP Photo/Abdeljalil Bounhar

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